The missing link between two eternal legends

Publié le par custerwest

Mexican General Santa Anna's spurs were used by Custer at Little Bighorn
source: Norfolk Historical Society

The Huger spur was crafted of steel, probably in the 1840s, with a gold-inlaid band intricately engraved with trailing vines. The multi-spoked rowel, or wheel, is renderd as a flower, with the petals forming the points on the spur. Although its origin is unknown, it was most likely made in Mexico or Cuba, where its first owner, Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (the enemy of Davy Crockett at The Alamo), was living in exile before the Mexican-American War. The first documented account of the Huger spur dates from September 1847 after Santa Anna's defeat at the hands of General Winfield Scott In Mexico City. Santa Anna surrendered his sword to Scott, who, in a gesture of respect, promptly returned it. To show his appreciation, Santa Anna removed his spurs and presented them to Scott. Soon thereafter, Scott gave them to his chief of ordnance and artillery, Captan Benjamin Huger, for bravery at Vera Cruz, Molino del Rey, and Chapultepec.  


Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) in the movie "The Alamo" (2004)

The Huger spur

Huger gave the spurs to his son Frank on his graduation from West Point. The following year both Hugers resigned their commissions in the United Staes Army to serve Virginia and the Confederacy. The elder Huger commanded state forces in Norfolk and eventually gained promotion to major general. Frank Huger fought with the Norfolk Light Artillery, known as Huger's Battery, and quickly moved up in the ranks after service in the battles of the Seven Days, Sulphur Springs, Harpers Ferry, and Fredericksburg. In 1863 he was promoted to major and fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. By the end of that year, he was a colonel in command of his own battalion. He was captured at Saylor's Creek in April 1865 by General George Armstrong Custer, a friend from West Point. Knowing that the war was over for him, the Virginian lent his prized spurs to the flamboyant Federal officer.

Some months after the war, Custer wrote to Huger asking permission to keep the spurs a little longer. Huger agreed, and Custer took the spurs when he went out west to fight in the Indian campaigns from which he never returned. One of the spurs was reportedly recovered from Custer's body after the Battle of Little Big Horn and given to his widow, Elizabeth, who then returned the spur to Frank Huger.

Personal papers and manuscripts that document the travels of the Huger spur lend credence to its seemingly fantastic history.


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